October 21, 2008

‘Body of Lies’ Star Endures Government Pressure for Fame: First Iranian-Hollywood Crossover

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Golshifteh Farahani, who stars in Ridley Scott’s “Body of Lies” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, has seen her fame and popularity in Iran skyrocket since becoming the first Iranian actress to successfully cross over to Hollywood.
“Come see Golshifteh and Mr. DiCaprio!” vendors yell on the streets of Tehran. “Buy and watch with Farsi subtitles! Hollywood quality film! Come before they’re sold out.”
But, as NIAC reported in August, fame has not always been kind to Miss Farahani.  The Iranian government earlier prohibited her from traveling to the US as punishment for her role in the film, which depicts her violating Iranian dress codes for women. And according to Farahani, the conservative rulers of Iran have given her some trouble as a result of her newfound popularity:

[Iranian officials] took my passport. The intelligence service interrogated me several times. In the end, the judge said, ‘We have to see the movie and then decide what we’re going to do with you.

In all, though, the experience has left Farahani largely unchanged–her passion for film is as strong as ever, as is her devotion to her home country.  And the feeling is mutual for Iranians from all walks of life.
Babylon and Beyond, a blog at the LA Times reports that:

Young women in dark black all-covering chadors as well as those in slinky tight petticoats and colorful head scarves, young men in blue jeans as well as those in the prim dark suits and white shirts of the pious line up in droves.

Passersby popped out of taxis momentarily to buy their own copies of “Golshifteh,” as the street vendors call the movie.
One young man at a street-side stall says he sells about 100 copies a day at about $1 a pop. The DVDs are mostly low-quality. Someone mounts a video camera in a movie theater and uploads the results to Iran, where they’re burned onto discs.

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